Now fire out, counting of costs begins

Investigations into how the 5000ha blaze near Middlemarch started are ongoing. Photo: Fire and...
Investigations into how the 5000ha blaze near Middlemarch started are ongoing. Photo: Fire and Emergency NZ
The major fire near Middlemarch may finally be extinguished, but the bills will only just be starting to roll in.

The cost of the 5000ha blaze remains unknown, as does exactly who will have to pay for it.

The fire began last Saturday. At times, more than 10 helicopters were working on the fire, as well as dozens of firefighters and contractors.

Investigations into how it started are ongoing.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokeswoman said questions about the cost of the fire, and the number of contractors working at the scene, would have to be processed under the Official Information Act.

Response national manager Paul Turner said the cost may not be known for "some time after the event".

Initially, costs will be met from Fenz's fire suppression budget, which is funded by fire insurance levies, he said.

"A decision on how costs will be apportioned across the agencies will be made if the fire was found to have started on public conservation land."

A large area of tussock burning in Te Papanui Conservation Park, near Middlemarch. Photo: Gerard...
Photo: Gerard O'Brien
A Dunedin City Council spokeswoman said staff would have a clearer idea of costs by early next week.

Most of the costs would be met from the 3 Waters operational budget, she said.

Earlier in the week, 3 Waters group manager Tom Dyer said testing on the Deep Stream catchment, which had to be carried out in Australia, was likely to cost about $300 a day, for a couple of weeks.

Test results were due back early next week.

About 1100ha of the fire was on Department of Conservation (Doc) land.

A spokesman said it would be weeks, or possibly months, before the costs were known and where they fell, and it was too early to say what, if any, financial implications there would be for Doc.

He did not respond to questions about which budget would cover any possible costs, or if Doc had any insurance that might cover them.


It costs what it costs. Why worry about it !

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